Congress last week passed a $40 billion aid package for the Ukraine war effort but took no action on a bipartisan $10 billion COVID-19 funding bill, which remains stalled. This week, the House began a two-week recess, while the Senate remains in session.
Health Equity Legislation Introduced in the House
A group of three House caucuses — the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus — have united to introduce the Health Equity and Accountability Act (H.R. 7585).
The group, know as the tri-caucuses, introduces this legislation each Congress to capture key health equity policies supported by each member caucus. The bill contains many essential hospital priorities, including:
- providing 12 months of Medicaid coverage postpartum;
- permanently removing the Medicare originating site and geographic restrictions for telehealth that were waived during COVID-19;
- enhancing programs that support, expand, and diversify the health care workforce;
- and creating new grants and breaking down silos to address social determinants of health.
House Committee Examines Health Care Bills
On May 18, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce marked up six bills, including two of note for essential hospitals: the Food and Drug Amendments of 2022 (H.R. 7667); and the Restoring Hope for Mental Health and Well-Being Act of 2022 (H.R. 7666). These bills would reauthorize Food and Drug Administration (FDA) user fee programs, allow for program improvements for the FDA at-large, and reauthorize programs of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and Health Resources and Services Administration.
The committee passed both bills, which now move to the full House for a vote; the timing of that vote remains unclear.
Hearings of Note
On Wednesday, May 25, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) will hold a hearing to consider the nomination of Rita Landgraf to be the assistant secretary for aging in the Department of Health and Human Services.
Also on Wednesday, the Energy and Commerce Oversight Subcommittee will hold a hearing on the nation’s baby formula shortage. The Senate HELP Committee also will hold a hearing on the same issue Thursday, May 26. FDA Commissioner Robert Califf will testify at both hearings.
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